Rebel of the Sands is a Arabian inspired fantasy with a western genre elements, especially at the start. Amani is a sharp-shooter and dresses as a boy in order to enter a shooting competition in the local saloon. There’s horse wrangling and train fights and I loved this genre mash-up (maybe after this and River of Teeth I am coming round to the idea of westerns).

We were wanting for almost everything in Dustwalk, in the whole Last County for that matter. Food. Water. Clothes. There were only two things we had too much of: sand and guns.

The reason that Amani wants to win the cash prize is so she can escape a forced marriage. Her parents are dead and the town of Dustwalk is struggling with the loss of a mining disaster. Now it houses the Sultan’s weapons factory, supplying his war with ammunition. There’s no future there for Amani but as a young women she has few choices. Except her mother often told her stories of a city where they could live as they please. That’s where Amani wants to go.

A mysterious foreigner in town brings the Sultan’s army to her doorstep, and whilst she doesn’t want to turn him in, she also doesn’t want him getting in the way of her plan. Yet their paths keep crossing and a friendship of sorts starts to blossom. But why is the Gallan army so keen to capture them? A runaway girl and a gunslinger?

Amani is not a swoony heroine at all, she knows her mind and sticks to her guns. She begrudgingly travels with Jin when it suits her but she isn’t past ditching him, repeatedly. I felt Jin’s situation was laid out, although it didn’t play out quite to what I thought.

They made the First Mortal. To do what they feared most, but what needed to be done in any war: die.

Magic has become the thing of legend yet some remnants remain, like the Buraqi, a horse wrought from sand, bound the flesh only with the use of iron. The countries are fictional but hold reference to places in the real world. the fantasy elements are stronger in the later parts of the story, and a lot of new characters are introduced. I preferred the parts with a smaller cast but I’m sure I’ll grow to love them all as the trilogy progresses.

The rebel of the title is the rebel prince. All the Sultan’s children get a chance to compete to be next in line for the throne. The country of Mirajn is crying out for political change and when a missing prince turns up to claim his legacy, many see hope. Things are never that simple and the prince goes into hiding; claiming support in public comes with a risk.

Jin told me once there was no arguing against belief. It was a foreign language to logic.

I did read it shortly after The City of Brass and this did mean I got the djinn mythology mixed up a little. Note to self, do not start new fantasy series with similar themes at the same time. I’ll definitely be giving the second book a chance.

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: 35. A past Goodreads Choice Awards winner
Read Harder: The first book in a new-to-you YA or middle grade series

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Book Source: Purchased